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The Political Subject in the 'Arab Spring

The Political Subject in the 'Arab Spring', Keynote Lecture

The Arab Uprising: Researching the Revolutions Conference, 22-23 September 2014 held at the CBRL British Institute in Amman

The scale and energy of recent political movements in the Arab world has astonished many observers, including academic analysts and strategists within the region. Tens of millions of people have engaged in efforts to change their circumstances, asserting their capacities as political subjects - individually and collectively.

The ‘Arab Spring’ has raised pressing questions about notions of political passivity or even inertia in Middle East societies, challenging ideas about Arab/Islamic ‘exceptionalism’ and prejudicial attitudes in place since the colonial era.

How do these developments affect long-term assessment of political change? What are the implications for other political actors and for researchers within and beyond the Middle East? Do recent civil conflicts and faltering movements for democratisation imply that old attitudes should be reinstated?

Philip Marfleet is Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of East London. He has written extensively on issues of globalisation, migration, and socio-political change in the Middle East. Recent publications include Egypt: the moment of change, with Rabab El-Mahdi (eds), Zed (2009); ‘Mubarak’s Egypt – nexus of criminality’, in State Crime, Vol 2 (2013); and ‘ “Identity politics” – Europe, the EU and the Arab Spring’, with Fran Cetti, in Ismael, Tareq Y. & Parry, Glenn E. in International Relations of the Contemporary Middle East, Routledge (2014).